Every step in the evolution of Emeritus wines has been considered to keep the results in mind—to create wines in the most gentle, sustainable, and healthy way possible, and to have each wine be distinct and balanced within the context of the vintage and consideration of the site. Winemaker David Lattin and Assistant Winemaker Keith Hammond share these goals and are constantly reviewing the process to make delicious wines of personality that avoid a heavy thumbprint of ‘winemaking’.
We take the upmost care to preserve the purity of our grapes before fermentation begins. Night harvesting delivers cold, crisp fruit to the winery that requires no energy for refrigeration and an enhanced perception of acidity. Hand-sorting at the winery selects only the best clusters and grapes, removing any unevenly ripened or damaged fruit. Finally, destemming directly to tank eliminates the need of a pump and keeps whole grapes intact for a more prolonged fermentation.
Once destemmed, the grapes soak at a cool temperature to extract some early color and aroma before the fermentation begins. Pinot Noir ferments very quickly, so this necessary step gives the wine more time on the skins to extract fresh fruit flavors. Native yeasts begin to grow as the temperature of the must gradually increases, and soon the fermentation begins in earnest. Tanks of fermenting Pinot Noir are punched down gently to extract the character from the skins without over-extracting unwanted tannins. At dryness, we keep the free-run wine separate from the press wine and use gravity to fill our French oak barrels.
Our three barrel producing partners are extremely important to the quality and purity of Emeritus wines. Each year, the winemaking team travels to France to observe the process of barrel making from forest to barrel. Like Emeritus, our tonnellier (or barrel maker) partners are multigenerational family-owned businesses who work with merrandier (or stave producers), who are also multigenerational family-owned operations. This yearly face-to-face time helps our partners to understand the characters that we look for in a barrel. Meeting with the merrandiers enables us to discover new forests or sub-forests that work better with our wines. Tasting and traveling with our tonnellier partners allows us to recommend preferred merrandiers and fine-tune the seasoning and toasting process to match our style of winemaking.
After barreling down and the completion of the secondary (malolactic) fermentation, the barrel tasting begins. The winemaking team tastes each barrel in the cellar multiple times to assess wine-wood interactions, the evolution of flavors, and to determine which of our Pinot Noir wines the barrel will ultimately be part of. Once David and Keith are satisfied with the blends, and it can take multiple trials, the wines are pumped (racked) from barrel leaving ~4 gallons behind. This means that only the clearest and purest wine goes into the blending tank, and we can bottle our wines unfined and unfiltered.
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